Jan Erickson is the founder and president of Janska, a Colorado Springs-based fashion company dedicated to both style and comfort. Using elegant fabrics, classic designs, and refreshing colors, Janska creates apparel that not only looks good but also feels good.
Erickson founded Janska in 2003 after dreaming about a comfortable jacket for a friend, Jean Jauchen, who had suffered several strokes and could no longer dress herself. Jauchen was living in hospital gowns and was always cold. One night, Erickson dreamed of a jacket that was warm, soft, and easy to get on and off. She woke up in the middle of the night, sketched the jacket, and went back to sleep. Erickson became obsessed with the design and kept tweaking it in her mind. She didn’t sew or have a background in fashion, so she took her sketches to a contract sewer. She then took the completed jacket to Jauchen, who lit up when she put it on.
Erickson used her and her husband’s savings to launch Janska and make apparel that is both comforting and beautiful more widely available. Janska clothing uses Malden Mills Polarfleece, a synthetic fleece fabric that is soft, lightweight, warm, comfortable, fast-drying, and durable. The material is also very easy to care for and can be machine washed.
Erickson is on a mission to show that fleece can be fashionable. “People don’t normally associate fleece with style and year-round comfort, but we dare to challenge that view,” she writes on Janska’s website. “Our clothing doesn’t just keep you warm during the winter months. It’s also light, breathable, and gorgeous during warm times of the year.”
Designed and manufactured in the US, Janska turned its first profit in 2011 and is now available at more than 900 boutiques across the country. Earlier this year, Erickson was named the “2014 Colorado Small Business Person of the Year” by the US Small Business Administration and the “2014 Business Person of the Year” by the Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce.